Advice: Just close your eyes and think of England (the Empire)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Oct 1 17:19:27 UTC 2014

I recall a three-part recipe, obviously not designed for how to get through the disgusting of kissing but more for what "baiser" now designates in French:

"Lie back, close your eyes, and think of England"

Do any of your cites include the first step?


On Oct 1, 2014, at 12:15 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:

> Fred and Charlie have an entry for "Close (Shut) your eyes and think
> of England (the Empire, the queen, Old Glory, etc.)" in DMP and YBQ.
> These two references list a key 1943 citation that involved kissing.
> I've located an interesting 1954/1955 cite that involved more than
> kissing. This was the earliest cite I found displaying the modern
> sense.
> The general background is here:
> [Begin modified excerpt from Quote Investigator]
> The earliest relevant evidence known to QI was published by an
> influential American newspaper columnist in 1943. Intriguingly, the
> topic was osculation and not conjugation, and the advice-giver was
> Lucy Baldwin who was the wife of the former Prime Minister of the
> United Kingdom:
> [Begin 1943 excerpt]
> Stanley Baldwin’s son tells this story of the day his sister went out
> with a young man who wanted to marry her. She asked her mother for
> advice, in case the young man should want to kiss her . . . "Do what I
> did," said her mother, reminiscing of the beginning of her romance
> with the man who was to become Prime Minister, “Just close your eyes
> and think of England."
> [End 1943 excerpt]
> It is conceivable that this was a bowdlerized version of a more ribald
> tale, but QI has not yet located supporting evidence for that
> hypothesis. An alternative conjecture would hold that the carnal
> element of this story was modified and amplified over time.
> In 1954 "Les Carnets du Major Thompson" was published in French by
> Pierre Daninos. The following year an English translation titled “The
> Notebooks of Major Thompson: An Englishman Discovers France & the
> French” was released in the U.S. The character portrayals in the
> volume emphasized humor. The French author Daninos asserted that the
> English character Ursula had been prepared “for marriage in an
> entirely Victorian spirit”. The expression in the following passage
> was identical to the one used in the previous citation. Yet, the
> activity shifted from kissing to intimate coupling:
> [Begin 1955 excerpt]
> The day before she left home, Lady Plunkwell had delivered her final
> advice: "I know, my dear, it’s disgusting. But do as I did with
> Edward: just close your eyes and think of England!" Like her mother
> and her mother’s mother before her, Ursula closed her eyes. She
> thought of the future of England.
> [End 1955 excerpt]
> [End modified excerpt from Quote Investigator]
> Cite info: 1943 May 18, Washington Post, Broadway Gazette by Leonard
> Lyons, Quote Page 10, Column 5, Washington, D.C. (ProQuest)
> Cite info: 1955, The Notebooks of Major Thompson: An Englishman
> Discovers France & the French by Pierre Daninos, Translated by Robin
> Farn, Chapter 8: Martine and Ursula, Quote Page 105, Alfred A. Knopf,
> New York. (Originally published in France as Les Carnets du Major
> Thompson by Librairie Hachette in 1954) (Verified on paper)
> Garson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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